With new research, a liver transplant may be unnecessary

Scientists at Edinburgh University have started working on a potential treatment for sudden liver failure. The cancer drug used in the therapy restores the liver's regenerative potential, thereby eliminating the need for a transplant

Liver

The liver has a natural regenerative ability, due to some illnesses, it becomes non-functional. The new therapy works on renewing this regenerative ability.

The team has started to observe why they lose their ability to regenerate itself by examining people’s livers. The scientists have discovered that severe injuries start the process of senescence throughout the liver.

The senescence develops, when the body’s cells become old, tired, and do not function properly. The study related to this is published in Science Translational Medicine, which found a chemical signal that seemed to be responsible.

The researchers have performed an experimental cancer therapy that could block the signal on mice. The animals were given an overdose of the drug. Normally, it would lead to liver failure and death, but, with the treatment, they survived.

The team will soon plan clinical trials on patients with acute liver failure. After transplants, the patients take around 10 tablets every day to help their body for accepting the new liver. If this potential alternative works out, it will be a relief to many patients, who will undergo the liver transplant in the future.

Dr S Bhalerao, a liver transplant surgeon from Pune, said, “There are researchers, across the world, researching on alternatives to the liver transplant. Much research is conducted on how stem cell therapy and gene therapy can be alternatives to the liver transplant. However, there is not one process, which can be taken as the best alternative in all the cases. With liver donors short in supply, the research should never stop.”